What are Uterine Fibroids?

Uterine fibroids (myomas) are noncancerous growths that develop in or just outside a woman’s uterus. Uterine fibroids develop from normal uterus muscle cells that start growing abnormally. As the cells grow, they form a benign tumor. There can either be one dominant myoma in the uterus, or a cluster of many small myomas.

20-50% of women of childbearing age have uterine fibroids. While some women do not experience any problems, those who do, can experience symptoms that require treatment.

There are four primary types of uterine myomas (fibroids) classified primarily by their location within the uterus.

Types of Uterine Fibroids

Subserosal - These fibroids develop in the outer portion of the uterus and continue to grow outward. 

Intramural - The most common type of myomas. These develop within the uterine wall and expand, making the uterus larger than normal (which may cause "bulk symptoms"). 

Submucosal - These myomas develop just under the lining of the uterine cavity. These myomas tend to cause heavy menstrual bleeding. They can also cause fertility problems and miscarriages. 

Pedunculated - Fibroids that grow on a small stalk that connects them to the inner or outer wall of the uterus.


Most often, uterine fibroids cause no symptoms at all -- so most women don’t realize they have them. When women do experience symptoms from uterine fibroids, they can include:

  • Prolonged menstrual periods (7 days or longer)
  • Heavy bleeding during periods
  • Bloating or fullness in the belly or pelvis
  • Pain in the lower belly or pelvis
  • Constipation
  • Pain with intercourse
  • Pressure on the bladder which leads to a constant need to urinate, incontinence, or the inability to empty the bladder
  • An enlarged abdomen which may be mistaken for weight gain or pregnancy

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